By Steven Masiga
Most Universities especially private ones face a number of problems, prominent among which are: funding, lack of permanent academic staff and poor infrastructure among others. Funding is the biggest problem and it is the major reason we are witnessing calls by owners of private universities for the government to take over the institutions.
Mr Steven Masiga, a researcher and an expert on higher education says, if private universities do not handle their finances well they may find themselves wiped from the academic scene the way the red Indians were wiped out from America.
The lockdown that has so far been in place for the last two months has even made the hitherto mighty private universities to tremble, in essence it was a litmus test and many lessons have been gleaned on the way they reacted.
He continues to explain that IUIU, UCU and Ndejje Universities advised their staffs not to expect any salary payments for April, May and other months in case lockdown persisted.
In this case, IUIU went an extra mile and indicated that a number of staffs could be terminated and they too threatened court action.
He added that, Metaphorically I would say that if private universities were all heading to cannan “The Promised Land”, then many would have collapsed along the way and indeed a number of them like Lugazi University, Busoga University and Fairyland Universities are early casualties as they never saw cannan.
Many experts on education including myself maintain openly though controversially that if a private university is failing to pay salary to its staff which is a basic pay, What then would be the fate of its funding to research which is supposed to be the core of an institution of higher learning?
As it is through research that you are able to differentiate between a secondary school and a university, research should not be a preserve of public institutions like Makerere alone but private universities must too create synergies in the field of research to complement or contribute to knowlege generation in the country and this will take us far.
There has also been an alarming trend on how NCHE flags off some of the universities to operate today, we really doubt if some of the institutions are even operating with permission of NHCE.
Today it may have abase in jinja, after a year it is in Tororo, Kampala and when you follow them in kampala you are likely to be told that they relocated to Luwero etc.
Many students formerly of such institutions have had challenges especially when it comes to verification of their academic documents and other related guidance, thus leaving many students stranded as a result of their nomadic behaviour lacking capacity to settle in one place. th
Then, cornmen or former lecturers of such institutions engage in very dubious acts as if they are still part of those collapsed institutions, The Government of Uganda should reserve a special fund for research in both public and private universities in Uganda since knowledge generation benefits all without discrimination.
Mr Steven Masiga, is a Ugandan researcher and an expert on Higher Education. For consultation, or any assistance, you can reach him on +256 706 655811